Saturday, September 3, 2011

Farmer's Markets

I am in L-O-V-E with our farmer's market. I feel like its really important when you can to buy local especially if you cant grow your own. Even more than supporting my local farmers and in my own small attempt to help drive down gas prices and cut dependency on oil by not purchasing items that had to be shipped long distances I never expected to learn so much and be around such a sweet, loving group of people.
  Going to the farmers market is like going to church for me. A group of people with the same goals and similar ideas all walking around together, its an amazing energy. In the few months I've been going I have befriended so many vendors and get amazing gardening, food, tea, health, and baby tips. Its a great experience every week and its so much fun.  If you have the opportunity to go to your local market please do.
Here are a few tips I've learned:
Go early! I find that getting there around 9 am works best for me. The lines are calming down but they aren't out of anything just yet. If you know something rare may be there then go at at 8am and wait in line.
Everything is grown seasonally unless it can be grown in a green house. So check your local markets website and they should have a list of the fruits and veggies in season.
Shop around! I'm not kidding, in the same market there are vendors with ground beef $6 a lb and another at $3.50 a pound. Veggies range differently as well, some places go by the pound and some go per vegetable. So unless its a rare or high demand item then make your rounds first and THEN go back and purchase.
Be respectful and polite to the vendors, ask questions about HOW they grow their produce or meats and what they treat it with. Just because it says "All natural" doesn't always mean it is and some vendors label "All Natural" even though they are organic because they cant label as organic yet. The more you talk to them, make friends, get tips you can find out more information to either grow your own OR see if they have volunteering opportunities to visit their farm, work and get paid in harvest veggies. The super upside to this is you get hands on practice but if you have kids they get to see how things are grown and where they really come from.
And lastly (so far anyway, I'm sure as I go I'll learn even more) Bring your friends, family, co-workers etc! Like any other store the market can only thrive with customers. The larger the market gets the more vendors get signed, the more variety, the lower the prices and then you get more benefits from buying local. With the cooler temps coming, get outside, enjoy the weather and support your community <3

Photo credit: Top picture Greater Springfield Farmers Market
Bottom picture

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